This picture of the old Met bridge over the Chicago River is undated, but probably dates to circa 1952-55 based on the type of red border Kodachrome mount it is in. But it is certainly after the the other picture in this post, taken at much the same location, since the building at rear, or part of it, was in the process of being torn down. This was not related to expressway construction, since the “L” at this point was north of there. Once the Congress rapid transit line opened in 1958, this section of “L” was taken out of service and by the early 1960s it had been torn down.
Cooler weather has moved into the Chicago area, and along with it, we have a Fall Harvest of classic rail images for you today, including many by three of the greatest railfan photographers of the 1950s– Clark Frazier, Truman Hefner, and William C. Hoffman.
Enjoy! -David Sadowski
This video features streetcars and elevated trains in Chicago, Milwaukee, and New York City, mostly from the early 1950s– and originally shot on high quality 16mm film:
CSL 4001 at South Shops, with 7001 in front of it, probably during the 1950s, when these two experimental cars were being used for storage.
CTA PCC 4371, built by Pullman, is on State Street heading south from Randolph, with the old State-Lake Theater in the background. The film “Lovely To Look At” was released on July 4, 1952, which is probably around when this picture was taken.
North Shore Line 759 heads up a two-car train heading southbound at Harrison Street, leaving street running in favor of private right-of-way in Milwaukee on June 16, 1962. (Richard H. Young Photo)
A two-car CTA Kenwood shuttle train at Indiana Avenue, probably some time around 1949. I assume there must have been stairs leading up to the tower.
A close-up of the previous image.
CTA 6130-6129 are “at speed” near Jarvis “L” station on the north side, operating under wire on the southbound express track as a mid-day Evanston “Shopper’s Special” on December 11, 1955. The picture is slightly blurred because Kodachrome back then was ASA 10 (until the introduction of Kodachrome II in 1961). The unique signage on the train indicates which stations this express train stopped at.
Chicago, Aurora & Elgin wood car 28 is at the head of a train in this picture I assume was taken in Wheaton, between 1952-55 (based on the slide mount).
Red Arrow Strafford car 164 is on the high-speed line to Norristown in the early 1950s, perhaps near 69th Street Terminal. Kenneth Achtert adds: “Your picture of Strafford car #164, if the early 1950s date is accurate, was most likely not on a Norristown line trip, but is arriving at 69th St. Terminal likely coming from Strafford. Strafford service was not abandoned until 1956 and was what gave the 160-series cars their common name. The bullet cars could have been called Norristown cars, but they already had an even better name.”
Red Arrow double-ended car 20, which looks like a PCC but technically isn’t, is running outbound on the Ardmore branch in the early 1950s. Not sure what all the track work is about, although the West Chester branch itself was abandoned in favor of buses in 1954, so that West Chester Pike could be widened. I assume this is the intersection of West Chester Pike and Darby Road in Havertown, PA. The Ardmore trolley was replaced by buses at the end of 1966. Both trolley lines here are now SEPTA bus routes. Mark A. Jones adds: “Regarding the Red Arrow trackage on West Chester Pike west of the Ardmore turn-off, it continued in use after the West Chester line became a bus as the Llanerch car barn (which housed the Red Arrow trolleys at the time) was located Darby Rd. and West Chester Pike west of the Ardmore cut-off. That’s my memory of that.”
Red Arrow double-ended St. Louis car 15, built circa 1949, is coming off the Ardmore line towards the 69th Street Terminal in the early 1950s. The West Chester branch might still have been in operation then, as there is a car in the distance on West Chester Pike.
Red Arrow Brilliner 9 is signed for the Media route in the early 1950s.
Red Arrow Brilliner 6 is signed for the Media route in the early 1950s.
On August 3, 1950, an eastbound Garfield Park “L” train approaches Western Avenue station. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
Deck roofed “L” cars, including 2908, are in Laramie Yard on July 2, 1950. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
An eastbound train of wooden “L” cars (including 3210), with trolley poles up, heads east on the ground-level portion of the Lake Street “L” in Oak Park on October 12, 1953. I believe the location is a few blocks east of Marion Street, where the street (South Boulevard) narrows.
The subway entrance on State Street between Madison and Monroe, as it looked on December 5, 1954. PCCs were still operating on State at that time. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The view looking south from the 35th Street “L” station on August 23, 1963. A new center island station had opened here in 1961, taking up space formerly occupied by the center express track, which had been unused after 1949. A fire destroyed the new station in October 1962, and temporary facilities were used until the station was rebuilt in 1965. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
An 8-car train of CTA 4000s, still in the old tan color, approaches 35th Street on November 6, 1950. In this somewhat underxposed slide, you can still make out the long walkway at right, which connected to a stairway at the former 33rd Street “L” station, only used as an auxiliary entrance and exit for 35th after 1949. This walkway was closed on September 25, 1961 and removed thereafter. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The view looking west from the transfer bridge at the CTA station at 40th and Indiana Avenue on July 7, 1953. A southbound train of 6000s heads into the station. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
This slide, taken on Sunday, March 6, 1955, gives a good view of the direction sign on the transfer bridge at 40th and Indiana station. Our resident South Side expert M. E. adds, “Two-car trains were rare on the north/south main line. The destination sign explains why just two cars: It is an “all-stop” sign reading “Howard Street”. Most days of the week, main line service was either “A” or “B”. The only time the CTA ran just two cars on the main line as all-stop trains was on Sunday mornings.” (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The westbound view from the transfer bridge at 40th and Indiana on July 2, 1963 shows CTA 6047 at the rear of a northbound train, fitted with an experimental ventilation system. This was not shot on Kodachrome, which explains the somewhat funky color shift on this slide. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The view west from the overhead transfer bridge at 40th and Indiana on July 7, 1953, looking west. We see a northbound train of 4000s, an approaching southbound train of 6000s, a Stock Yards shuttle train, and some additional Stock Yards cars being stored on the former express track, unused since 1949. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
Looking west from the passenger overpass at Indiana Avenue on July 3, 1950, we see an 8-car train of steel cars, and a Stock Yards shuttle train. In the distance, that may be some additional Stock Yards cars being stored on the otherwise unused center track. (William C. Hoffman Photo) Our resident South Side expert M. E. writes: “Your caption needs correction. What you claim to be a Stock Yards shuttle is not on the Stock Yards tracks, which ran directly west from the switch building at the end of the platform. Instead, your “Stock Yards” train is on the main line heading east/south. Apparently the CTA still ran old cars on the main line at that time, although I don’t remember that. Another, more remote, possibility is that this short train is dead-heading east (without passengers) toward the Kenwood line. But in the next photo, you see no track connection from the main line to the Kenwood line. The only way dead-headed cars destined for Kenwood could end up on the Kenwood line would have been to turn south on the main line to 43rd St. and use switches to go from the southbound main line to the northbound main line to the former northbound main line track, which joined the Kenwood shuttle track back at Indiana Ave. — and which (in reverse) provided the only way to move Kenwood cars off the Kenwood tracks.” We were only repeating the information that Mr. Hoffman wrote on the original slide mount, which, of course, could be wrong.
Two “new” and two “old” 6000s enter the CTA station at 40th and Indiana on June 6, 1954. The Kenwood shuttle continued to operate for another three years after this. We are facing east. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
SF Muni 170 on the N Line, entering the Sunset Tunnel in 1957. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni 130 on Ocean Avenue by Elkton Shops on September 16, 1957. According to the Market Street Railway web site: “Car No. 130 was among the the last ‘Iron Monsters’ to leave passenger service, in 1958. Muni shop foreman Charlie Smallwood saved it from the scrap heap by hiding it in the back of Geneva carhouse while its mates met their fates. He then talked his bosses into making it a ‘wrecker’. Stripped bare and painted yellow, it spent the next 25 years towing its replacements–PCC streetcars–back to the barn when they broke down. It was fully restored by Muni craft workers in 1983 for the Historic Trolley Festival, including original seats, which Charlie had kept all those years in his basement…just in case!” (Clark Frazier Photo)
Key System A Train 130 near Yerba Buena Island on the Bay Bridge on April 18, 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Pittsburgh 1499 on Route 34/21 on Ladoga Street near Ingram in 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Pittsburgh 1486 and 1485 rest at Ingram carhouse in 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni “Iron Monster” 162 at La Playa (48th), approaching the N Line terminus on December 16, 1956. (Clark Frazier Photo)
The SF Muni Geary car house in 1956. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Dresden 264 007 on Line 4 at Dresdner Schloss on June 3, 1978. At the time, Dresden was located in East Germany. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Key System 167 is an A Train east of Yerba Buena Island on the Bay Bridge on April 18, 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni “Iron Monster” 178 on a fantrip on the J Line by SF Muni “Iron Monster” 178 on a fantrip on the J Line by Dolores Park in 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)Park in 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni “Iron Monster” 114 stops for passengers on the B Line in 1956. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1553 at the Route 20 Plow Pit on February 7, 1959. This was a spot where overhead wire ended (by law) and streetcars changed over to collecting electricity through an underground conduit. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Boston MTA 3276 entering Reservoir Yard on June 5, 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Boston MTA 3216 on Mass Avenue in North Cambridge on August 29, 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Boston MTA 3337 (ex-Dallas) near the Cedar Grove station on the Ashmont-Mattapan line on May 31, 1961. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1543 on Route 20 in Georgetown on June 7, 1959. The Georgetown Theatre was located at 1351 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC and opened in 1913. It closed in 1986 and was converted to retail. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1159 at the Calvert Bridge on Route 92 on February 6, 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni “Iron Monster” 213 on the N Line, west of the Sunset Tunnel, in 1957. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Key System (Oakland) E train 184 to Berkeley leaving 55th Street in 1958. This slide has a processing date of March 1958 stamped on it, one of the earliest I have seen. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni “Iron Monster” 130 on the M Line by Parkmerced on September 16, 1957. (Clark Frazier Photo)
A Key System E train to San Francisco near Tower 3 in 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1136 on Route 54 at the Navy Yard car barn on September 1, 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
In May 1952, a CTA train of flat-door 6000s heads down an incline west of Pulaski Road on the Douglas Park “L”. (Truman Hefner Photo)
A train of CTA 6000s on the Metropolitan main line, looking east from Marshfield Avenue. This probably dates to late 1950, since no work has yet been done building the temporary right-of-way in Van Buren Street to the left, later used by Garfield Park trains. The tag on the train indicates whether it stopped at some part-time stations on Douglas. (Truman Hefner Photo)
A CTA two-car train of 6000s, running on the Douglas Park line, heads east onto the Metropolitan main line at Marshfield Junction. Since a train is visible on the Garfield Park portion, the date cannot be later than September 1953, and is likely a couple years before that. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA 6056-6057 crossing East Avenue in Berwyn, where a sign indicates that the crossing guard is off duty. This portion of “L” was abandoned in February 1952. (Truman Hefner Photo)
6053-6054 near Oak Park Avenue on the Douglas Park “L”. The date given here (December 1953) must be wrong, as the line had already been cut back to 54th Avenue by then. It may be December 1950, as Douglas was the first line to use the new 6000s. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA 2725 at the Oak Park Avenue terminal of the Douglas Park “L” in December 1950. The line was cut back to 54th Avenue, nearly two miles east of here, in 1952. This area is now used as a parking lot in Berwyn, often referred to as the “L” strip. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA 6087 and train are running on the ground-level portion of the Douglas Park “L” at Kenton Avenue in May 1952. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA deck-roofed car 2891 is just south of Roosevelt Road on the Westchester “L” in April 1951. (Truman Hefner Photo)
A train of CTA 6000s (probably 6055-6056) crosses Austin Boulevard in Cicero on the Douglas Park “L” in February 1952, shortly before service was abandoned west of 54th Avenue. (Truman Hefner Photo)
A CTA train of 6000s is turning onto the Metropolitan main line from the Douglas Park “L” on April 3, 1954, while a CTA test train (with car 2276) is on the new, as yet unused connecting track between the Douglas “L” and the old Logan Square branch. Once Douglas trains began using this new “L” connection, they began running downtown via the Lake Street “L”, and portions of the old “L” east of here were torn down for expressway construction. By 1958, there was a new ramp in place, approximately in the same place the 6000s are here, leading down to the Congress rapid transit line in the expressway median. (Truman Hefner Photo)
A CTA train of 6000s is turning from the Metropolitan main line onto the Douglas Park “L” on April 3, 1954, while a CTA test train (with car 2276) is on the new, as yet unused connecting track between the Douglas “L” and the old Logan Square branch. Once Douglas trains began using this new “L” connection, they began running downtown via the Lake Street “L”, and portions of the old “L” east of here were torn down for expressway construction. By 1958, there was a new ramp in place, approximately in the same place the 6000s are here, leading down to the Congress rapid transit line in the expressway median. (Truman Hefner Photo)
In December 1950, CTA open platform, railroad-roofed car 2327 is westbound at Austin Boulevard on the Douglas Park “L”. Here, the barrier is down. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA wooden open platform, railroad-roofed car 2330 is northbound on the Northwestern “L” near Berwyn Avenue, running on the Evanston line in July 1951. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA 2256 is part of a four-car Met train, turning from Market Street onto the double bridge over the Chicago River in March 1951. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA railroad roofed, open platform car 2707 under the Belt Railway at Kenton Avenue on the Douglas Park “L”. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA arched roof, open-platform car 2281 at 54th Avenue on the Douglas Park “L” in March 1951. (Truman Hefner Photo)
Open platform, railroad roof car 2715 at 54th Avenue in Cicero, on the Douglas Park “L”, in January 1951. (Truman Hefner Photo)
The CTA ground-level station at Austin Boulevard in Cicero, on the Douglas Park “L” in December 1950. Note the unusual raised barrier at the crossing. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA open-platform, railroad roof car 2338 at Kenton on the Douglas Park line, where there was a connection to the Belt Railway of Chicago, in December 1950. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA open-platform, railroad roof car 2318 at Kenton on the Douglas Park line, where there was a connection to the Belt Railway of Chicago, in December 1950. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA PCC 7215, a product of the St. Louis Car Company, is signed to go to 80th and Vincennes, operating on Route 22 – Wentworth in 1958. But was this picture taken at 80th and Vincennes? M. E. writes: “Reason to think this photo was taken at 80th and Vincennes: There was a single loop track at 80th and Vincennes, and the terminal area was on the east side of a miniature “park” situated east of Vincennes between the terminal trackage and Vincennes Ave. proper. Reasons to think this photo was not taken at 80th and Vincennes: (1) The exit trackage in the photo makes no sense if it were indeed 80th and Vincennes. The exit trackage ran straight out of the loop and onto northbound Vincennes trackage. (2) As I recall, 80th and Vincennes was a residential area with no large buildings. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say this photo was taken on the property of the 77th/Vincennes carbarn, and the streetcar in the photo had either just returned from 80th and Vincennes or was headed there. This scenario is also likely because there was never a “terminal” on line 22 at 77th St.; the closest was at 80th St. Consequently, streetcars in service coming from the north had to go to at least 80th St. before heading back to the barn at 77th St.”
The Prince Crossing station on the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin, as it appeared on June 14, 1960, after abandonment.
Did Not Win
Try as we might, our resources are always limited and there are photos that our beyond our means to afford. Yet many of them are worth another look anyway:
Chicago, South Shore and South Bend Railroad modernized interurban coach 28 and modernized steel interurban combine 107 at the end of the line station shared with Amtrak. The line was cut back from downtown South Bend in 1970. In 1992 the line would be diverted to the South Bend Airport. April 26, 1980, W Washington St & W Meade St, South Bend, Indiana. (Clark Frazier Photo)
This original glass plate negative, showing the last New York City horse car line circa 1907, recently sold on eBay for $539(!). The location is Broadway looking north just past Broome Street. The horse car line was abandoned in 1917, by which time it had few passengers as was a “franchise run.”
Angel’s Flight in its original LA Bunker Hill location, probably circa 1969. The funicular opened in 1901, but was dismantled and put into storage for several years not long after this picture was taken, as the hill it climbed was razed. It has since reopened in a different location.
A Hidden Freight Spur
I was somewhat surprised a few months ago when it appeared some freight car switching was taking place on the Union Pacific West Line (formerly Chicago & North Western) embankment in Forest Park, just east of Lathrop Avenue. The tracks here were raised around 1910 and not far east of here, the embankment is shared with the Chicago Transit Authority’s Green Line (aka the Lake Street “L”).
There isn’t much light industry left near the railroad in Forest Park, but apparently there is still at least one active customer, and behind a row of town houses, there is an active freight spur, with a ramp leading up to the embankment. I found a lone freight car on the spur. Presumably it will be hauled away prior to the next delivery, whenever that might be.
The freight spur is visible on this map. You can also see how the curved streets in this part of Forest Park got their shape. They once formed a “wye” used to turn trains around. Much of the CTA rail yard west of Harlem Avenue was built onto new embankment in the early 1960s.
I drive by this area nearly every day, but all this is so completely hidden from view that I had no idea any of this still existed. It also sheds some light on the changes made to the “L” and the adjacent commuter rail line in the late 1950s.
When the CTA and C&NW were negotiating the relocation of the Lake Street “L” onto the embankment, at first it was thought that the “L” would run as far west as the DesPlaines River in River Forest. In 1958, the C&NW sought permission to close several commuter rail stations, ceding their close-in ridership to the CTA (and at the same time speeding up service to suburbs that were further out).
Originally, the River Forest station was one of the C&NW petitioned the Illinois Commerce Commission to close, but at some point, plans were changed, and the station is still there, serving riders on what is now the Metra Union Pacific West Line.
If the “L” had been extended through this area, it would have made it difficult for the C&NW to continue serving their freight customers in Forest Park with the spur line that is, apparently, still in use.
Looking southeast. Town houses have replaced light industry south of the railroad spur.
Larry Sakar writes:
A three-car train in Lake Bluff by William D. Volkmer, 10/8/60.
I was browsing through some of your newest pics on The Trolley Dodger. You have a great picture of a North Shore train NB at Lake Bluff taken by Bill Volkmer on 10/08/60 (5 days after my 10th birthday). They aren’t what I’m concerned with.
In the spring of 1992 I accompanied another NSL fan on a tour of the abandoned NSL from Lake Bluff to Mundelein, probably other spots on the NSL as well but I no longer remember. It may have been this trip, or another time but he was after a whistling post that was still embedded near one of the crossings on the Skokie Valley route. He brought along a sack of tools with which to extricate it. He discovered that it was anchored very deeply by a steel cord of some sort and did not get it.
I took the attached photo at Lake Bluff that day. What I would like to know is where the Lake Bluff station would have been in the 1992 photo and what direction I am facing. As you can obviously tell, it was a damp and foggy day. The second picture was taken at Mundelein. He told me that the NSL station was in the parking lot seen in my photo, which I seem to recall was for an apartment complex.
The individual in the photo was an avid NSL fan, having ridden the last northbound train from Chicago to Racine. He was a high school student at the time. The Racine station agent was a friend of the family. He was in the right place at the right time. The place was the Racine station on the day it was torn down. It was gone by the time he got there but he noticed a pile of items being burned. Among those items was the ticket agent’s rack and rubber stamps which he rescued from the pile.
No rush. I’ve just been wondering. He may have told me that where he was standing was where the trains stopped, but I honestly don’t remember. I ceased all contact with this individual in 2003 when I quit TMER&THS (The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Transit Historical Society).
The site of the former North Shore Line station in Lake Bluff in 1992.
The site of the former North Shore Line station in Mundelein in 1992.
The site (at right) of the former North Shore Line station in Waukegan in 1992.
Perhaps some of our readers can help Larry figure this out, thanks.
Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks.
The Trolley Dodger On the Air
I recently appeared on the Dave Plier Show on WGN radio, to discuss Chicago’s Lost “L”s. You can hear that discussion here.
Our Latest Book, Now Available:
Chicago’s Lost “L”s
From the back cover:
Chicago’s system of elevated railways, known locally as the “L,” has run continuously since 1892 and, like the city, has never stood still. It helped neighborhoods grow, brought their increasingly diverse populations together, and gave the famous Loop its name. But today’s system has changed radically over the years. Chicago’s Lost “L”s tells the story of former lines such as Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, Kenwood, Stockyards, Normal Park, Westchester, and Niles Center. It was once possible to take high-speed trains on the L directly to Aurora, Elgin, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The L started out as four different companies, two starting out using steam engines instead of electricity. Eventually, all four came together via the Union Loop. The L is more than a way of getting around. Its trains are a place where people meet and interact. Some say the best way to experience the city is via the L, with its second-story view. Chicago’s Lost “L”s is virtually a “secret history” of Chicago, and this is your ticket. David Sadowski grew up riding the L all over the city. He is the author of Chicago Trolleys and Building Chicago’s Subways and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog.
The Images of America series celebrates the history of neighborhoods, towns, and cities across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the distinctive stories from the past that shape the character of the community today. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.
Title Chicago’s Lost “L”s Images of America Author David Sadowski Edition illustrated Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2021 ISBN 1467100007, 9781467100007 Length 128 pages
Chapters: 01. The South Side “L” 02. The Lake Street “L” 03. The Metropolitan “L” 04. The Northwestern “L” 05. The Union Loop 06. Lost Equipment 07. Lost Interurbans 08. Lost Terminals 09. Lost… and Found
Each copy purchased here will be signed by the author, and you will also receive a bonus facsimile of a 1926 Chicago Rapid Transit Company map, with interesting facts about the “L” on the reverse side.
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A Tribute to the North Shore Line
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the demise of the fabled North Shore Line interurban in January 2013, Jeffrey L. Wien and Bradley Criss made a very thorough and professional video presentation, covering the entire route between Chicago and Milwaukee and then some. Sadly, both men are gone now, but their work remains, making this video a tribute to them, as much as it is a tribute to the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee.
Jeff drew on his own vast collections of movie films, both his own and others such as the late William C. Hoffman, wrote and gave the narration. Bradley acted as video editor, and added authentic sound effects from archival recordings of the North Shore Line.
It was always Jeff’s intention to make this video available to the public, but unfortunately, this did not happen in his lifetime. Now, as the caretakers of Jeff’s railfan legacy, we are proud to offer this excellent two-hour program to you for the first time. The result is a fitting tribute to what Jeff called his “Perpetual Adoration,” which was the name of a stop on the interurban.
Jeff was a wholehearted supporter of our activities, and the proceeds from the sale of this disc will help defray some of the expenses of keeping the Trolley Dodger web site going.
Total time – 121:22
# of Discs – 1 Price: $19.99 (Includes shipping within the United States)
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On this Thanksgiving Day weekend, we here at the Trolley Dodger have many things to be thankful for… chiefly among them, our readers. This seems like a good time to feature recent correspondence with our very knowledgeable and astute readers. We thank all our contributors.
I wish you the best in this upcoming holiday season.
Kim Bolan writes:
Just came across The Trolley Dodger and what a great and detailed work. It reminds me of my youth in Milwaukee riding No. 10 Line in Tosa (Wauwautosa) and also Speedrail. I have a question regarding #978. I lived in San Francisco but never saw this car in operation. Is it part of Muni’s heritage collection?
Just received this 35mm transparency (Kodak film and processing) from an unknown photographer taken September 1984 of car 978 at San Francisco, CA (see above).
Car 978 was loaned to San Francisco in the mid-1980s, intended for use in the SF Trolley Festival, but my understanding is it was damaged somehow and never operated there. As far as I know, the car is now at the East Troy Electric Railroad in Wisconsin, where it is stored inoperable.
Here is the full story on what happened to 978, thanks to Larry Sakar:
Regarding the question about TM streetcar 978 in San Francisco, I know all about it. MUNI and TWERHS* worked out a deal whereby 978 was to be sent to San Francisco to participate in the very first Historic Streetcar Festival in 1983. It was not in the best of condition to begin with. En route, one of the truck bolsters (the 900’s were notorious for having bad bolsters) gave way and came through the floor (it was being trucked out there.) It was unloaded and brought to Geneva upper yard where it was parked in among some Boeing LRV’s. It made its way back to East Troy probably at the end of the festival in September and was never a part of the historic fleet. Now, here’s some additional info about it.
The 978 was saved by Mr. Al Buetschle, then of Milwaukee but since 1960 or 61 a resident of Oakley, CA. Oakley is in Contra Costa County about 60 miles NE of San Francisco. Oakley is a little “one-horse town” in what is known as the Tri-Delta region.
The streetcar was initially saved on behalf of the Wauwatosa Kiwanis Club who gave Al the money to buy it. It would take pages for me to provide all of the details of the day he bought it. Frederick J. Johnson head of M&STC personally handled the sale. Al had told them he wanted a 900 and one from that group of 10 because they were the only ones with that metal sun shade over the center window.
When he got to Col Spring shops sure enough they had an 800 waiting. He refused to accept it. The car he really wanted was the 975 but it was too far back in the scrap line in lower Cold Spring yard. To get the 978 meant moving 3 cars ahead of it. Johnson was plenty mad about having to do that. So they get on the first car to be moved. Johnson puts a fuse in the fuse box. But then he stupidly cranks up the controller and blows the fuse.
This happens a second time so Al says, “Here, I’ll show you what to do!” Johnson immediately wants to know, “How do you know how to operate a streetcar?” Al tells him he was friendly with a motorman who taught him to run a car on the Rt. 10 West Allis branch between Calvary Cemetery cut and 67th St. Murray, the motorman would then take it from there since it involved descending from the former Rapid Transit line and making a safety stop before crossing 68th St.
Well, Dave, Johnson has an absolute fit!! *&%%^( (expletives deleted) I want his name.” Al says, “No. He has retired now that streetcars are gone so it doesn’t matter “In the end he got the 978 and Johnson even gave him his money back admiring him for his tenacity. Al had a friend who had access to a flatbed truck. Johnson let him drive 978 up from lower Cold Spring. The car was loaded onto the flatbed truck and taken to a piece of track adjacent to the C&NW and a lumber company at North 91st Street and West Flag Avenue on Milwaukee’s northwest side.
By this time the Kiwanis Club decided they didn’t want it so Al now owned it. He took out all the seats and repainted the interior before putting them back. He would work on 978 as his time permitted. The Kiwanis Club had the “brainy” idea of displaying the car in Hart Park in Wauwatosa. Hart Park is just down the private right-of-way (now a driveway) parallel to West State Street, east of the Harwood Avenue streetcar terminal at Harwood and State Streets (long gone).
In 1961, Al got a job as a controller for a company and moved to the Bay Area. No, he didn’t take 978 with him. It then ended up at the Mid-Continent Railway museum in North Freedom. In the mid to late ’60’s the group that is now TWERHS was formed and the car went with them to their first home in North Lake, WI. In 1972 they opened the East Troy Trolley Museum which is now under a different organization.
None of us are really sure where 978 is. It is in need of major restoration. At one time the rumor was that it was going to be sent to Brookville Equipment out east. They’re the company that does all the refurbishing of MUNI’s historic PCC fleet.
Did Al see it when it was in San Francisco? Yes he did. He has a fantastic picture he took with 978 and his red sports car (convertible). He is putting the trolley pole on the wire. I f I recall correctly his red car was a T-Bird. It was totaled about 10 years ago when he was hit by a group of teenagers out joy riding and who as you can probably guess were not insured.
I snapped a picture of it sitting in among the Boeing cars in 1983. I had to climb up on a narrow cement ledge and shot thru the openings in a cyclone fence. I’ll have to see if I still have it and if I do I will scan it and send it.
By the way, as a little boy of maybe 9 or 10 my grandparents came over one day. They said they were taking me to see something but wouldn’t tell me what. It was a surprise. Yes, it was the 978 at the lumber company. The Milwaukee Journal had run a small story about it with a picture. It had to be when Al was doing the repainting because I remember looking thru the glass in the door (I came up about as far as the bottom of the glass in the door. All of the seats were piled at that end of the car and I thought they were going to junk it.
My grandmother who had taken me on my streetcar rides on RT. 10 between about 1955 and 3-1-58 said she didn’t know. Who could ever have imagined that 30 years later I would meet the person who saved 978. One other coincidence, David. From 1978 to 1997 I worked for Security Savings & Loan Association on 2nd and Wisconsin downtown. The Corporate Secretary was a man named Walter Bruno. As it happens he was Al’s Godfather!
Thanks, Larry, for sharing the complete story. There is a database of saved North American electric railcars, last updated in 2014, and that is my source for saying that, as far as I know, the 978 is at East Troy.
Here is the photo of 978 I took in September, 1983. The picture that follows was the Geneva car house which suffered severe damage in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. I think I took this in 1987 because that is a train with MUNI’s then new BREDA cars. Now they have new ones which I’ve only seen in pictures in Trains and Railfan & Railroad. The Market Street subway for MUNI was closed when I was there in 2017 because they were testing the new cars. If you look at the right hand side of the picture there’s that concrete wall I mentioned having to climb on top of and the fence I had to shoot thru.
The most popular cars during the Trolley Festival and in the event they hold for one day in September of every year (forgot its name) are the two Blackpool, England boat trams #’s 228 and 232. Here are some shots I took while riding it in 1983. Last, here is an Al Buetschle shot. It was taken at the site of the Speedrail 9-2-50 accident post Speedrail abandonment. Those are remnants from duplex 39-40 that was demolished by 1192-93.
The Milwaukee Electric Rapid Transit Freight Terminal
Larry Sakar writes:
It stood for 76 years, had four different owners and was razed in 2006 as part of the Marquette Interchange reconstruction project. I am talking about the Rapid Transit freight terminal building constructed by TM and opened in 1930 at 940 W. St. Paul Avenue.
TM fully expected that freight would play an important role in operations over the Milwaukee Rapid Transit Line. Unfortunately, like the Rapid Transit Line itself which opened on Sept. 22, 1930 the timing couldn’t have been worse! As part of its planned freight operations TM acquired Motor Transport Company in 1930 from Yellow Trucking.
A decade later, TMER&T turned its back on all rail operations. Motor Transport Company was sold back to Yellow Trucking. Its trucks had a Transport Company orange cab and a silver trailer with the Transport Company diamond logo. But instead of saying The Transport Company, as the logo on busses and streetcars did, it said Motor Transport Company. I vividly recall seeing those trucks around Milwaukee. I always wondered how they could get away with using The Transport Company’s logo not knowing until years later that it had once been a part of the company.
TMER&T occupied offices on two floors of the eight-story terminal. Its successor, The Milwaukee & Suburban Transport Corp. which succeeded it in late 1952 continued to have its corporate offices there until 1962 when they moved to 4212 W. Highland Blvd. The former Cold Spring shops buildings still stand, and have been sold for adaptive reuse. MCTS corporate offices are on North 17th St. & West Fond du Lac Avenue.
I took the “Now” photos in 2003. In 1940, in addition to selling off Motor Transport Co. TMER&T sold the Rapid Transit freight terminal building to GE Holdings. Sometime after `1938, the electric sign on the roof was changed to read “The Transport Company”. GE owned the building until 1971 when they sold it to Aldrich Chemical. The electric sign was removed altogether after M&STC moved out in 1962. When GE took over in 1940, “General Electric Building” was painted on just below the roof. Looking at my 2003 photos it would appear that they sand blasted that off when Aldrich Chemical took over in 1971.
I bought this photo from Don Ross a few years back. It is from the collection of Tom Manz. I don’t know if he is the person who took the picture but I kind of doubt it. I’ve no idea who did or why. It could be that they were plotting out the area so they could determine where they wanted the ramps to and from the soon to be built “High Rise Bridge” over the Menomonee River Valley would be constructed.
These are the ramps that take you from eastbound I-94 either north on I-43 or south on I-94. I-94 turns south to cross the valley so from this point east the road becomes I-794 which takes you east and then south over the Hoan Bridge. The High Rise bridge was built over a three-year period beginning in the summer of 1966. I know because my brother got a job working on its construction during summer break from college (Michigan State U. in East Lansing). I vividly remember my mother having an absolute fit about him working up there.
The view is looking south and slightly east. The former freight terminal is on the right hand side of the picture about 1/3 of the way up from the bottom of the picture. Just put a finger on the right hand corner of the picture at the bottom and move it up and a bit left. That first visible street is North 10th Street. The Rapid Transit freight terminal is right at that corner. The factory directly across the street with the connecting pedestrian overpass is the Cutler-Hammer Company, still there today. The railroad tracks belong to the Milwaukee Road.
OK. Follow the street in front of the terminal to the left (east). Right where it dog-legs there is an open space. That is where Motor Transport Company was located. The intersection above and to the left is North 8th & W. St. Paul. Move your finger down slightly and that’s where the so called “temporary ramp” over the portal of the never completed subway had been. I’m not certain if any of that dark space beneath the 8th Street bridge could have been part of the unfinished subway. The street in the foreground with all of the traffic is Clybourn Street, which has been converted to the on and on ramp to I-94 which didn’t begin until 13th Street.
I have printed a copy of the first scan and with a ruler and magic marker put in the approximate route of the Rapid Transit from the turn off of Clybourn Street to the crossing of North 10th Street. The Hibernia Street one-block L began on the west side of North 10th Street. -Larry
More from Larry:
While browsing around on the “Net” recently I ran across this great picture credited to your Trolley Dodger website. I was wondering when it ran on your site as I don’t recall having seen it. Do you know where this is? I can tell you if you don’t. This is a northbound Port Washington train at the intersection of North 3rd and West Wells Streets. This is former dining car duplex 1196-97, which unlike its mate 1198-99 was never repainted in the yellow with green stripes paint scheme. The two trains were hated by both motormen and conductors alike, because their single door made them slow to load and unload passengers. Both became mainstays on the Port Washington line until it was abandoned in the KMCL ownership era on 3-28-48. The Port Washington destination sign dates the picture to sometime between 1940 and 1948. I do not recall the exact date but in 1940 service north of Port Washington was abandoned and a new loop installed in Port Washington west of the downtown area. Typical of TM’s notorious frugality, the bridge over Pike Creek just outside the new Port Washington Loop was the one that had once crossed the White River in Burlington.
I took these pictures in 1989 showing the ex TM Port Washington Station sitting on what little was left of the former loop. A Wisconsin Telephone Company building had been built over most of the loop. I’m not sure if it’s still there but the last picture I saw of it the building had undergone a complete remodeling and bore no resemblance to its original appearance.
Thanks for sharing the pictures and information. I am sure our readers will appreciate it.
Don’s Rail Photos says, “1196-1197 was built at Cold Spring in 1929. The second car was equipped with small dining facilities but it was shortly rebuilt with a baggage compartment at the rear end. It was stored at West Allis Station after a few years. In 1942 it was rebuilt with all coach and scrapped in 1952.” This car is shown in downtown Milwaukee, signed for the Port Washington interurban line.
Steven G. writes:
Can anyone at Trolley Dodger help me out? I want to find photos of all FOUR sides of any of the Insull inspired Spanish stations. Don’t laugh… but I am actually going to have a 26′ x 70′ station built. I have a good photo of the Briergate station… but the other 3 sides: no present photos to look at. THANKS!!!
I will look into this and see what I can do, thanks.
Dave…. Luck has it and I’m pretty happy with what I have for photos now. From the GEM (Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Historical publication)… I have a photo now of the back side of the Deeprpath station. Wasn’t sure what the “cube” on the back side was. Turns out – the Beverly Shores (Indiana) South Shore station has a sketch in it’s National Historic designation paperwork that shows the “cube” is the enclosure linking the back of the station with a basement under the station. (For some reason, none of the Insull Station’s had indoor stairs to their basements).
Anyway… with some Google earth street shots, I have the side of the station I was missing. Sooo… yes, I now have a view “all the way around” and can see what all four corners of the station looked like. Sadly, in comparing the Beverly Shores station with Briergate: the chimney at Briergate is gone and I suspect where that ugly red garage was placed took out the passenger side of the station. I can also see where Briergate no longer has the arched front door. The door frame has been altered for a rectangular storm door.
As I live about a 3 1/2 hour drive from Beverly Shores, I am going to drive my car from north of Detroit to Michigan City, hop on the South Shore, hop off at Beverly Shores with my camera, measuring tape, pencil and paper & I will then get ‘hands’ on measurements of windows, doors, etc. By the time I finish – I can hop on the train back to Michigan City. This will take less then half a day to do all this. But… I can put some serious numbers into these ‘station sketches’, & push onto actually putting together a construction blueprint!!!
You may already know this: photo set 1 is Deerpath (frt) Deerpath (bk) & below is the parking lot side of Beverly Shores sta. Photo set 2 is Beverly Shores (top) and Briergate (below).
This is great, thank you! I am sure others will enjoy seeing these pictures.
Steve G. replies:
Here’s the floor plan at all the Insull stations had… and a better photo of the station front door. Not sure WHY the residents installed a neon light sign over the passenger station… but it is still there and it’s lit each night at dusk (smiles)
Mitch Markovitz adds:
The neon sign at Beverly Shores Depot was not installed by the residents. It came with the depot when it was new in 1929. Touting the new development by Bartlett who had the railroad and Post Construction build the building. The Venango (River) guys had the neon sign repaired by Jeff Jolley back in ’85. It then had to be re-done again.
Here are some of our own recent photo finds. These include some unrealized plans, dated December 9, 1970, showing how the City of Chicago intended to replace the Loop “L” with subways in stages. This was eventually abandoned as being too expensive, and the “L” looks to be here to stay as an iconic part of Chicago.
Wacker Drive construction at Madison Street on September 19, 1951. The view is looking north. An eastbound CTA PCC is on shoo-fly trackage. Note how dirty the Civic Opera House building is at left, most likely due to the widespread use of coal for heating in this era.
A close-up of the previous picture, showing the construction of Lower Wacker Drive.
A City of Chicago rendering of the Wells Street Plaza, just east of the old Main Post Office, dated January 25, 1956.
A photo of this “street car waiting room,” located at 38th and Western, appeared in Bulletin 146 of the Central Electric Railfans’ Association. Here is another view by Bob Selle, taken on January 30, 1954. This amenity was provided by a local merchant and, due to a fire, did not last long after the end of streetcar service in 1956.
CTA 6165 is at 51st and Indiana Avenue on August 18, 1952, in this photo by Bob Selle.
A Blast From the Past
Sean Hunnicutt writes:
I thought this might be a nice thing to revisit in Trolley Dodger or Chicago L Facebook page. Well done!
This was my attempt, long ago, in a galaxy far far away, to get Chicago to have a “circulator” streetcar of the type that several other cities have since built. From the Chicago Tribune, August 1, 1982.
A picture appeared in Bulletin 146 of the Central Electric Railfans’ Association (page 301), credited to Charles Thorpe, from the Wien-Criss Archive, showing a Chicago PCC streetcar at Clark and Wells. Someone posted this image to Facebook, and in response, another writer questioned the accuracy of the location, since Wells does not run into Clark today. This prompted some correspondence between me and Andre Kristopans.
CTA PCC 7201 is heading northbound at Clark and Wells on February 16, 1957, in this photo by Charles H. Thorpe, from the Wien-Criss Archive. It was the last streetcar to operate on the State-Broadway portion of Route 36.
The same location today.
When did the CTA put a bus turnaround where Lincoln, Clark, and Wells meet? When was it removed? (I assume, when Route 11 ended?)
Wells dead ends now, and doesn’t actually meet Clark. But did they meet at one time, and was Wells truncated?
Close but no banana. Until the 1960s, Wells continued straight north until it merged into Clark. There was double track on Wells that joined tracks on Clark. Lincoln dead ended into Clark pretty much as it does today. The only part of Lincoln that had track in this area was a single track coming off the southbound Clark track that joined the northbound Wells track, roughly 50 feet long. This was erroneously referred to by CTA as “Menominee” in Armitage route descriptions. Menominee is actually a half block south and never had tracks. The hundred odd feet of Wells between Clark and Lincoln is the only thing missing.
Now the CTA built a terminal at Clark and Wisconsin, a block north, in the 70s. There was continuous and vehement opposition from the owner of the adjacent house from day one, and as a result in the 90s CTA gave up and closed it down. Armitage, Ogden, and some Lincoln buses used it. Look at the Armitage route history on the Irm-cta website for exact dates.
Thanks for the information… and we thank all our readers! Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks.
Don Ross writes:
I thought your readers might enjoy seeing this photo from my collection. It shows a westbound 800 on the private right-of-way heading for the Harwood Avenue terminal. (The way to tell an 800 from a 900 is by the front center window. 800s had a much narrower center window than the 900s.) It’s hard to make out but State Street is to the left of the poles in this picture (where you see the jumble of white colored buildings. The RR tracks to the right of it belonged to the Milwaukee Road back then. This stretch of private right-of-way was a favorite for photographers.
Just east of this point the streetcars made an “S” turn to the right (south, cut across a roughly 3/4 block patch of r.o.w. and then emerged on a street called Motor Avenue where they ran east for a little over a block to North 68th Street. At 68th they turned right, crossed the Menomonee River for the second time, and climbed the hill to West Wells Street. Here they turned left to head east on Wells all the way to downtown Milwaukee. Before getting there, the cars would cross the Menomonee River a third time on the famous Wells Street streetcar trestle.
Never has a bridge terrified so many people! My first streetcar rides in Milwaukee occurred when I was about 5 and ended on the last day 3-1-58. My grandmother and I got off the car on each end of the trestle and rode across several times so, as she said, “You’ll always remember it” and I do. She would always prep me as the car was about to cross, “Now, don’t be afraid.” Are you kidding? I loved every minute of it and yes, I never forgot the experience. Actually, Dave, I think she was the one who was afraid. It was remarkable to watch how people either stared straight ahead or kept their eyes on the magazine or newspaper they were reading.
After streetcars quit on 3-1-58 the Milwaukee & Suburban Transport Corp. donated the trestle to the city of Milwaukee. The city debated for two years as to what to do with it but in the end it was dismantled in 1960. In all the years that trestle served the streetcars, and in the earliest days interurban trains, there was never an accident or derailment of any kind. However, the bridge was notorious for drivers who had imbibed a bit too much of the product “that made Milwaukee famous,” some of which was brewed by Miller Brewing at the east end of the trestle, tried driving across. If bouncing along the ties and rails didn’t sober them up the damage to their tires and front end suspension sure did along with the traffic citation, and a bill from the Transport Co. for removal of their car and any damage done to the trestle.
The late Lew Martin, a member of the Railroad Historical Foundation also known as the “607 gang” for Milwaukee streetcar 607 which they purchased in March of 1949 and were in the process of restoring a Hibernia St. yards just east of the Rapid Transit freight terminal at 940 W. St. Paul Ave. told me that he and a group of his friends would wait at the end of the Wells Street trestle usually the west end. That was a stop. They would climb onto the back end while holding on to the trolley rope and ride across. Lew commented, “Boy, if my mother had ever found out what I’d been doing I’d have been in a lot of trouble!”
Another former Milwaukeean, Mr. “Pete” Rogers who by the 1980’s when I got to know him was living in Bullhead City, AZ told the story of a school trip on the streetcar from his high school, Juneau High, which was a few blocks north of the Rapid Transit line when the line was there to the Milwaukee Public Museum downtown on 8th and Wisconsin. The Central Library and Public Museum used to occupy the same building. Today, the museum has its own building on 8th and Wells. Anyway, boys will be boys. Streetcars had bars across the lower part of the windows to prevent kids from sticking their hands out. One of his buddies discovered that a set of the bars below the window at which they were seated were loose. They managed to work an entire panel of bars loose and thinking it would be great fun, lifted it up and sent it sailing over the railing of the viaduct where it came crashing down in the parking lot of the Hilty-Forster Lumber Company 80 feet below. They thought it was a great prank until the next day. The class was called to the school auditorium. Up on stage stood the principal and a Transport Company supervisor. Oh, Oh! No one would admit who did it so the whole class got punished and had to pay for repairs to the streetcar and damages to the parking lot. What seemed like a great prank could have had serious consequences if that set of bars had hit someone.
My father told me that as kids they used to put these big firecrackers he called “Salutes” on the streetcar tracks and watch as the trucks went over them causing them to lift off the rails.
In the days prior to 1937, Rt 10 cars continued past the Harwood terminal and climbed the hill on the way out to the Muirdale Sanitorium. Streetcars carried a destination sign that read Rt 10 WAUCOBLDG. That was TM shorthand for Wauwatosa County Buildings.
TM 905, looking west at the Harwood Avenue terminal.
Same location ca. 1990’s. Larry Sakar photo
Looking east on Motor Avenue in Wauwautosa. Note evidence of tracks in the pavement.
A 900-series car (953?), eastbound entering Motor Avenue on Route 10. (Don Ross Photo)
An 800-series car near 71st and State, heading westbound on route 10.
Now Available On Compact Disc
Railroad Record Club – North Shore Line Rarities 1955-1963
# of Discs – 1
Price: $15.99 Railroad Record Club – North Shore Line Rarities 1955-1963
Newly rediscovered and digitized after 60 years, most of these audio recordings of Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee interurban trains are previously unheard, and include on-train recordings, run-bys, and switching. Includes both Electroliners, standard cars, and locomotives. Recorded between 1955 and 1963 on the Skokie Valley Route and Mundelein branch. We are donating $5 from the sale of each disc to Kenneth Gear, who saved these and many other original Railroad Record Club master tapes from oblivion.
Total time – 73:14 [/caption]
Railroad Record Club Traction Rarities – 1951-58
From the Original Master Tapes
# of Discs- 3
Railroad Record Club Traction Rarities – 1951-58
From the Original Master Tapes Our friend Kenneth Gear recently acquired the original Railroad Record Club master tapes. These have been digitized, and we are now offering over three hours of 1950s traction audio recordings that have not been heard in 60 years.
Properties covered include: Potomac Edison (Hagerstown & Frederick), Capital Transit, Altoona & Logan Valley, Shaker Heights Rapid Transit, Pennsylvania Railroad, Illinois Terminal, Baltimore Transit, Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto, St. Louis Public Transit, Queensboro Bridge, Third Avenue El, Southern Iowa Railway, IND Subway (NYC), Johnstown Traction, Cincinnati Street Railway, and the Toledo & Eastern $5 from the sale of each set will go to Kenneth Gear, who has invested thousands of dollars to purchase all the remaining artifacts relating to William A. Steventon’s Railroad Record Club of Hawkins, WI. It is very unlikely that he will ever be able to recoup his investment, but we support his efforts at preserving this important history, and sharing it with railfans everywhere. Disc One Potomac Edison (Hagerstown & Frederick): 01. 3:45 Box motor #5 02. 3:32 Box motor #5, May 24, 1953 03. 4:53 Engine whistle signals, loco #12, January 17, 1954 04. 4:13 Loco #12 Capital Transit: 05. 0:56 PCC car 1557, Route 20 – Cabin John line, July 19, 1953 06. 1:43 Altoona & Logan Valley: 07. 4:00 Master Unit car #74, August 8, 1953 Shaker Heights Rapid Transit: 08. 4:17 Car 306 (ex-AE&FRE), September 27, 1953 09. 4:04 10. 1:39 Pennsylvania Railroad GG-1s: 11. 4:35 August 27, 1954 12. 4:51 Illinois Terminal: 13. 5:02 Streamliner #300, northward from Edwardsville, February 14, 1955 14. 12:40 Car #202 (ex-1202), between Springfield and Decatur, February 1955 Baltimore Transit: 15. 4:56 Car 5706, January 16, 1954 16. 4:45 Car 5727, January 16, 1954 Niagara, St. Catharines & Toronto: 17. 4:19 Interurbans #83 and #80, October 1954 18. 5:20 #80, October 1954 Total time: 79:30 Disc Two St. Louis Public Service: 01. 4:34 PCCs #1708, 1752, 1727, 1739, December 6, 1953 Queensboro Bridge Company (New York City): 02. 5:37 Cars #606, 605, and 601, December 31, 1954 03. 5:17 Third Avenue El (New York City): 04. 5:07 December 31. 1954 05. 4:47 Cars #1797, 1759, and 1784 at 59th Street, December 31, 1954 Southern Iowa Railway: 06. 4:46 Loco #400, August 17, 1955 07. 5:09 Passenger interurban #9 IND Subway (New York City): 08. 8:40 Queens Plaza station, December 31, 1954 Last Run of the Hagerstown & Frederick: 09. 17:34 Car #172, February 20, 1954 – as broadcast on WJEJ, February 21, 1954, with host Carroll James, Sr. Total time: 61:31 Disc Three Altoona & Logan Valley/Johnstown Traction: 01. 29:34 (Johnstown Traction recordings were made August 9, 1953) Cincinnati Street Railway: 02. 17:25 (Car 187, Brighton Car House, December 13, 1951– regular service abandoned April 29, 1951) Toledo & Eastern: 03. 10:36 (recorded May 3-7, 1958– line abandoned July 1958) Capital Transit: 04. 16:26 sounds recorded on board a PCC (early 1950s) Total time: 74:02 Total time (3 discs) – 215:03
The Trolley Dodger On the Air
We appeared on WGN radio in Chicago in November 2018, discussing our book Building Chicago’s Subways on the Dave Plier Show. You can hear our 19-minute conversation here. Chicago, Illinois, December 17, 1938– Secretary Harold Ickes, left, and Mayor Edward J. Kelly turn the first spadeful of earth to start the new $40,000,000 subway project. Many thousands gathered to celebrate the starting of work on the subway. Order Our New Book Building Chicago’s Subways
There were three subway anniversaries in 2018 in Chicago: 60 years since the West Side Subway opened (June 22, 1958) 75 years since the State Street Subway opened (October 17, 1943) 80 years since subway construction started (December 17, 1938)
To commemorate these anniversaries, we have written a new book, Building Chicago’s Subways.
While the elevated Chicago Loop is justly famous as a symbol of the city, the fascinating history of its subways is less well known. The City of Chicago broke ground on what would become the “Initial System of Subways” during the Great Depression and finished 20 years later. This gigantic construction project, a part of the New Deal, would overcome many obstacles while tunneling through Chicago’s soft blue clay, under congested downtown streets, and even beneath the mighty Chicago River. Chicago’s first rapid transit subway opened in 1943 after decades of wrangling over routes, financing, and logistics. It grew to encompass the State Street, Dearborn-Milwaukee, and West Side Subways, with the latter modernizing the old Garfield Park “L” into the median of Chicago’s first expressway. Take a trip underground and see how Chicago’s “I Will” spirit overcame challenges and persevered to help with the successful building of the subways that move millions. Building Chicago’s subways was national news and a matter of considerable civic pride–making it a “Second City” no more!
Title Building Chicago’s Subways Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2018
ISBN 1467129380, 9781467129381
Length 128 pages Chapter Titles: 01. The River Tunnels 02. The Freight Tunnels 03. Make No Little Plans 04. The State Street Subway 05. The Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway 06. Displaced 07. Death of an Interurban 08. The Last Street Railway 09. Subways and Superhighways 10. Subways Since 1960 Building Chicago’s Subways is in stock and now available for immediate shipment. Order your copy today! All copies purchased through The Trolley Dodger will be signed by the author. The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States. For Shipping to US Addresses: For Shipping to Canada: For Shipping Elsewhere: Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo)
Help Support The Trolley Dodger
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CSL prewar PCC 4022 heads west on Madison Street in the late 1940s. It is signed for the Madison-Fifth branch line. Fifth Avenue is an angle street that heads southwest. Service on the branch line terminated at the Garfield Park “L” station at Pulaski Road. Several parts of Fifth Avenue have been truncated since streetcars stopped running there in early 1954. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)
It has been nearly two months since our last post, but we are back with a bevy of classic traction photos for your consideration.
Things have been quite busy of late, as we worked as an election judge for two recent elections (three in the last six months). Although you have not seen a new post for a while, work behind the scenes continued. We scanned hundreds of images, and many needed extra help in Photoshop.
When you see as post such as this, it is like the tip of an iceberg. For every image we share, there are others that, for whatever reason, do not make the grade, as well as others that are being stored up in an inventory of images, waiting for their moment in the sun.
Leopards, they say, never change their spots… but I assume you can identify certain breeds of dogs, such as Dalmatians, by the location of their spots. Spots factor into our images in any number of ways. Our readers often help us determine just which spot a picture was taken at. And we often have to do spot removal, a tedious practice, on old images.
Brian Wilson has his Pet Sounds, and we have our own pet images. Today’s batch are particular favorites, but each one is a different animal– a horse of a different color, you could say. You should have seen some of these pictures before we got hold of them and gave them triage. On second thought, just stick to the finished product you see here.
There are many, many hours of work that go into each post, and money too. When you see an image here, figure that it cost at least $10 on average to obtain it. We are fortunate that some of our readers have shared images from their extensive collections with us.
In particular, today’s post benefited tremendously from the generosity of both William Shapotkin and Jeffrey L. Wien, both of whom recently celebrated birthdays.
So, we are calling this post 101 Dalmatians, as we have at least that many new pictures here, and after working on them for so long, we are starting to see spots everywhere we look. We hope you will appreciate our modest efforts, and we will be back soon with more posts.
Our best wishes also go out to Ray DeGroote, the dean of Chicago railfans at age 88, who was recently injured in a fall. We wish him a speedy recovery. If anyone can do it at that age, Ray can.
A bird’s-eye view of the Wells Street Terminal used by the Chicago, Aurora and Elgin interurban on September 19, 1953. The following day, CA&E stopped running trains downtown, and their track connection with the CTA was severed forever in suburban Forest Park. There is a similar image, taken in 1960, showing the same terminal, or what was left after the CTA built a new track connection to the Loop elevated through it in 1955. You can find that in my book Building Chicago’s Subways.
On July 27, 1962, a CTA Douglas Park “B” train pulls away from us at the Racine stop on the Congress rapid transit line., then only four years old. The train will go downtown through the Dearborn Subway, and then out to Logan Square via the Milwaukee Avenue tube.
On May 28, 1978, photographer William D. Lloyd caught this picture of CTA Historic cars 4271-4272 on the north side “L”. Now nearing the century mark, they are still on the property today. Here, they were only about five years out of regular service.
On January 26, 1964, approximately one year after the North Shore Line quit, the two Electroliners were rechristened as Liberty Liners on the Red Arrow’s 13-mile line between Philadelphia and Norristown. In the distance, we see a pair of early 1930s Bullet cars, which had a storied history of their own.
MBTA (Boston) ex-Dallas double-end PCC 3336 at Mattapan yards on December 5, 1976. (Ed McKernan Photo)
Two CRT Met cars at the Laramie Shops in 1947. (John Gibb Smith, Jr. Photo)
In the last couple years of red car service in Chicago, which ended in 1954, the CTA painted a few of the older streetcars green. It was not an attractive color for them. Here, we see inbound car 6172 jogging from one side of Lake Street to another via Pine Avenue. To this day, tracks are still visible under the viaduct. At this point, streetcars crossed the Lake Street “L”, which ran on the ground here until 1962.
CSL 1466 was used as a training car for the three river tunnels. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)
CSL 173X (full number not visible) is heading west on Madison Street in the 1930s. The Civic Opera House, built by Samuel Insull in 1929, is visible at rear. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)
A maintenance of way car along the overhead section of the North Side “L”, exact date and location unknown. Jeff Wien adds that this is: “Wilson Avenue, freight connection to Buena Yards, probably in the early 50s.”
Laurel Line car 31 is at the Plains substation on August 3, 1952. Edward Skuchas writes: “I believe the locations of the two Laurel Line photos are incorrect. The top photo is Pittston. The lower photo may be the Plains sub-station. West Pittston is on the other side of the Susquehanna River, and the Laurel Line did not go there.”
Laurel Line car 39 is at the Plains sub-station on December 28, 1952, shortly before abandonment.
The interior of Lehigh Valley Transit car 1007, showing its leather bucket seats, which were popular when this car was built for the Cincinnati and Lake Erie in the early 1930s.
Conductors on a Humboldt Park “L” train, circa 1907-15.
A Loop-bound Metropolitan “L” train, circa 1907-15.
The Chicago Surface Lines used trailers during the 1920s, as a way of dealing with increasing crowds of riders. But with the advent of the Great Depression, ridership fell sharply, and the trailers were no longer needed. Some thought was given to reviving them during World War II, but this did not happen. Here, 1756 pulls 8049. Don’s Rail Photos notes, “8056 was built by Brill in 1921, #21272. It became a shed at 77th and scrapped on July 17, 1957.” 1756 was a “169” or Broadway-State car. Again, Don Ross: “1756 was built by CSL in 1923. It was rebuilt as one-man in 1949.”
CTA prewar PCC 7028 on private right-of-way at the south end of Route 4 – Cottage Grove, in June 1953.
CTA Sedan (aka Peter Witt) 3848 on priate right-of-way at the south end of Route 4 – Cottage Grove in June 1952. Here, the line ran parallel to the Illinois Central Electric suburban service, now the Metra Electric.
After the Chicago Transit Authority retired the last of the wooden “L” cars in 1957, some were used for a few more years in work service. Here, a Met car has been renumbered as S-308 at Skokie Shops.
CTA single cat unit 23 is outbound on the Skokie Swift at Niles Center Road on August 20, 1970.
CTA single car unit 26 on the open-cut section of the Skokie Swift in August 1978.
CTA postwar PCC 4337, built by Pullman, heads south on State Street in the early 1950s.
An outbound CTA Douglas Park train ascends the ramp that will take from the Congress (now Eisenhower) Expressway to the old “L” structure in the mid-1960s. This ramp is not used much now, as Douglas trains, now renamed the Pink Line, have been rerouted to the Lake Street “L” via the Paulina Connector. (Mark D. Meyer Photo)
I ought this Red Border Kodachrome slide, which dates to the early 1950s, thinking perhaps it might e the old Park Theater on Chicago’s west side (on Lake near Austin). But after studying the image for a while, I am inclined to think it’s somewhere else. While the facade looks similar to the actual Park Theater, it is not identical. There should be streetcar tracks visible– the movie theater closed in 1952, about two years before the streetcar quit. And the theater on Lake Street at Austin Boulevard did not have a streetlight such as the one seen at right. There was a light attached to a line pole that held the trolley wire– a line pole not visible in this picture. That, plus the rounded nature of the signage, which I have never seen in any other pictures of the Park, tell me that this is not it. But we have in the past posted several pictures of streetcars near the actual theater. If you type “park theater” or “lake austin” in the search window on our page, these various pictures will come up.
CSL 1039 at Wabash and Lake in June 1947. Signed for the Indiana-Lincoln through route #3, it is southbound, and headed to Indiana and 51st.
CSL 6284 on Wabash at Roosevelt Road on June 13, 1947. Although the car is full of people, for some reason the side sign says Not In Service.
A two-car CTA train of 4000s at right, in Evanston shuttle service, heads southbound approaching Howard in the 1950s.
TMER&T 1121, on a December 4, 1949 fantrip on the North Shore Line.
CTA historic cars 4271-4272 at McCormick Boulevard (Yellow Line aka Skokie Swift) on July 16, 1989. (Bruce C. Nelson Photo)